The 1918 Influenza Pandemic Invades Westmoreland County

WESTMORELAND COUNTY LOGOThe 1918 influenza pandemic affected the entire world. While the true number of deaths is impossible to know, the most commonly accepted estimates range between 20-40 million victims.

Westmoreland County Community College, in association with community partners Excela Health, the Westmoreland County Historical Society, the Westmoreland Library Network and Pennsylvania Department of Health, has designed a program to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1918 influenza pandemic.

"The 1918 Influenza Pandemic Invades Westmoreland County" summarizes the arrival, spread and impact of the pandemic in Westmoreland County. Of the 231,000 residents of the county at that time, more than 41,000 were infected and approximately 1,300 people died.

Throughout October 2017, Westmoreland County Community College was the site of a four-part speaker series in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the pandemic. Another series is scheduled for October 2018.

The college is seeking personal stories about the impact of the pandemic on local families. Please contact Dr. Thomas Soltis at soltist@westmoreland.edu to share your family’s story.

Admission to all events will be free and open to the public.  

Spanish Influenza Images2    Row on row of cots filled with patients stricken in the 1918 influenza – U.S. Naval Center  

Spanish Influenza Images

American Red Cross moving victims from their homes to a quarantine area

A coffin from that era was on display in the Westmoreland County Community College Library in Founders Hall throughout October 2017. The coffin was generously loaned to the college by Jack Wilkinson of Jason Wilkinson Nursery in Armbrust. The coffin was originally located at a funeral home in West Virginia.

Library coffin

A mural was also placed in the Founders Hall lobby. It featured an outline of Westmoreland County and red pins. Every red pin represented 1 of each of the 1,300 deaths in the county. 

Flu MuralFlu Pins

Facts about the 1918 Flu Pandemic:

  • The accepted range of deaths for the 1918 influenza pandemic is 20-40 million worldwide
  • Highest range estimated to be 100 million (Johnson & Mueller)Wwifludeaths
  • Influenza killed more people in one year than those who died in the Black Death in the Middle Ages
  • HIV/AIDS is estimated to have killed 30+ million people in just over three decades, the 1918 pandemic killed more people in six months
  • An estimated 50,000 people in PA died in the 1918 pandemic
  • 41,000 Westmoreland County residents are estimated to have been infected by the disease 
  • Influenza killed more people than the total who died in WWI fighting
  • During the pandemic all public meetings, movie theaters and bars were ordered closed by PA Department of Health
  • Greensburg canceled its Columbus Day Parade and Halloween “trick or treat” activities

Cemeteriespandemic

Boxers Who Died of Influenza:

Jim Stewart (heavyweight) - Oct. 26, Camp Dix

Matty Baldwin (lightweight) - Oct. 8, Massachusetts

Al Thomas (lightweight) - Oct. 20, Camp Dodge

Terry Martin (welterweight) - Oct. 14, New Jersey

Jim Johnson (Negro heavyweight) - Nov. 1, Massachusetts

Jim Tuber – bantamweight - Oct. 30, Philadelphia

See More Photos

Local Pandemic Victims

 

Community Partners:

 Dept Of Health Logo LOGO

Excela Health Modified V1

  

 

 WLN Logo ResizedOff The Wall Arts Logo 2

 Wilkinson Nursery